PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Ever since Tyrod Taylor agreed to a $10 million pay cut in March, it has been fair to question his future as the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback beyond the upcoming season.
Through the first five practices of training camp, little has changed. If fans at St. John Fisher College have been looking for a step forward from Taylor, it has not been there. His performance Tuesday in 11-on-11 drills will ultimately be a small sample size within his entire body of preseason and training camp work, but it was poor enough to be notable.
With a focus in the red zone, Taylor’s first pass was nearly intercepted by cornerback Ronald Darby, who jumped rookie receiver Zay Jones’ route along the sideline. In the next sequence of plays, Taylor either overthrew his receiver in the end zone or threw it away — it was unclear during live action. The next play, he led running back Mike Tolbert too much on a swing pass, which hit the ground.
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Taylor’s next group of reps included a sack by defensive tackle Kyle Williams, another missed swing pass to running back Jonathan Williams, a pass overthrown to receiver Philly Brown along the sideline and another sack when Taylor could not find an open receiver. He could not get a pass off in his final sequence, when he was sacked by defensive end Jerry Hughes and, later, defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
Clearly, Taylor was not getting much help from his offensive line. That unit was without center Eric Wood on Tuesday because of a veteran’s day off. The top group has also seen shifting personnel as coaches have given looks to Seantrel Henderson at left tackle, Vladimir Ducasse at right guard and Dion Dawkins at right tackle in place of incumbent starters Cordy Glenn, John Miller and Jordan Mills.
But Taylor also seems to be repeating what has been a problem at times over his two seasons in Buffalo: holding the ball too long. Taylor was sacked the most times (42) of any quarterback last season, which was a combination of his offensive line and Taylor leading the league in average time before passing (2.97 seconds). The Bills’ stout defensive line can be partially blamed for the pressure he faced in Tuesday’s practice, but his inaccurate throws to open running backs in the flat were not the product of good defense.
Taylor’s bad morning Tuesday came after Sunday’s practice in which he was more accurate but his receivers did not give him much help. Overall, Taylor and top receiver Sammy Watkins have yet to dazzle in 11-on-11 work, with Taylor’s only attempt to Watkins in Sunday’s session broken up by rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Much can change in the coming weeks. Taylor is known to coaches to be a diligent worker behind the scenes and his execution of other portions of practice could encourage the staff. However, 11-on-11 drills remain the closest replication to real game action of any practice. Through nearly a week of training camp, Taylor appears to be stuck in neutral to begin a season in which the Bills need him to take a step forward.